The Rise of Skywalker Trailer – 9 Things

Did you all catch The Rise of Skywalker trailer during the football game tonight?

So, our final trailer leading up to the movie premiere in December. In honor of it being the 9th and final movie in the Skywalker Saga, here are 9 things I noticed about it – for better or worse.

1. Finn…and Rey?

I’ve not been shy about how much I want Finn and Rey together. Their immediate connection and relationship in The Force Awakens are one of the things that made me fall in love with the movie instantly.

They are two broken people who have come together and are helping each other heal. Rey gives Finn something to believe in, Finn is the first person who comes back for Rey in her entire life – showing her that she is indeed valued and loved.

finn

The first voice we hear in this trailer is Finn’s.

I am so glad, I felt like Finn took a bit more of a backseat in The Last Jedi and FinnRey wasn’t even a feature of that movie at all! I deeply missed their dynamic of being together, but that ending hug we got on Crait was a huge indicator that none of the love between them had grown cold.

Not only are all of our characters back together, but I get the feeling that we will get to see once again that Finn and Rey dynamic that we fell in love with from Moment 1. I can’t help but believe Finn’s stirring line,

It’s an instinct, a feeling. The Force brought us together.

is likely aimed at none other than Rey. He’s speaking with a softer tone, as you might if you were talking to just one person or perhaps a small group of people.

Whether this line is aimed at Rey or not, it’s a beautiful testimony to the entire heart of this Saga as well as how far Finn has come as a character.

He’s a believer, 100%. 

reyyyy

Excuse the blurry image, but even with the lower image quality, it’s not hard to read what Finn is saying here (plus you can hear it in the trailer). This image is almost an exact copy of his face and body language in The Force Awakens when Kylo takes off in his ship with a kidnapped Rey. Finn is screaming her name in desperation.

Given that this appears to be the same place we have seen Kylo and Rey clashing in a lightsaber duel, I imagine whatever follows this image is pretty dramatic. #bringiton

This character wears his heart on his sleeve, and I love him for it.

Finn and Rey are right back where they belong – together.

2. The Ghost

the ghost

As a big Star Wars Rebels fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t give this a shoutout – The Ghost is actually flying directly to the back right of The Falcon. This is huge for the Rebels’ storyline!

Ezra disappeared right at the beginning of the Original Trilogy timeline. It’s 30+ years later, so he would be in his late 40s. Other characters will be even older.

Is this a much older Hera still flying her ship with the Resistance? She’s just the type of warrior to stay in the fight for the long haul.

Is it her son flying his mother’s famous ship? Did Sabine and Ahsoka find Ezra like he asked and are they the ones piloting the ship????

It’s a really, really big reveal, and I’ll just bet we get Dave Filoni to weigh in on it before long.

3. This Movie Is Beyond Gorgeous

Would you just take a moment to soak in the number of textures, landscapes, colors, and movement of this movie??? There are about 3 different things happening in this image below.

gorgeous shot

This iceberg planet is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in Star Wars.

iceberg star wars

Even the “getaway” device is filled with bright, colorful yellow powder! It’s almost like the filmmakers are celebrating the joy that is this Star Wars story all throughout this movie!

color explosion

4. C3PO

I think Anthony Daniels is about as adorable as they come – C3PO? Not so much.

3po

I’ve never been a huge 3PO fan (although I do have a pair of 3PO socks that I love). He always seemed to be bumbling his way through situations (or slowing everyone down) while R2D2 did the actual heavy lifting.

Seriously, if R2D2 had been taken out a long time ago the Emperor would still be ruling and every one of the heroes would have died.

But over time I have come to appreciate this incredibly “British” droid. He was made to be a human companion and helper, far more suited for aiding a senator (as he does Padme Amidala in The Clone Wars) than he is for fighting in a scrappy Rebellion.

But he’s made it this far, he’s done his best, and it would appear in this trailer that our old and sometimes annoying Gold Friend may be saying his final goodbye.

And I cried. Dadgum it, 3PO! I. CRIED! Han SOLO would have cried at that! #manytissueswillbeharmedintheviewingofthismovie

bye 3po

5. The People of the Resistance

One thing I deeply appreciated about The Last Jedi is there were scenes with “background” characters such as Paige Tico’s brave sacrifice that made sideline characters feel like the feature character for their moment. 

Rogue One was an entire movie made about the “little people”, the behind-the-scenes heroes who lived, loved, fought, and died for this cause of freedom. They are the foundation our bigger heroes stand upon, without them none of this exists.

It is my great hope that in this movie that theme will be continued.

Rebellions are built on hope…

And they are built on beautiful, normal people who stepped up and said, “Count me in.”

dom and rose

Shoutout to whoever gave Rose this fantastic new hair look (I couldn’t stand her old one even though I liked her). Also, it looks like we have Billie Lourde’s character as well as Dominic Monaghan’s character shown in the background. I am anticipating awesome things!

6. Palpatine Is STILL Being A Huge Drama Queen

creepy throne

Isn’t this throne just a bit…extra?

Not really. For all his evilness, Palpatine has a work ethic even I have to respect. Plus he’s been sitting in the shadows somewhere, scheming and planning for 30+ years. A guy’s gotta have a hobby.

But what’s his angle here? I suspect he’s interested in bringing Rey and Kylo together, this line seems to point to that idea,

Your coming together is your undoing…

Did you notice that it appears both Rey and Kylo are searching for something in the shell of this ancient Death Star? What are they hoping to find?

rey and kylo death star

 

It also appears that Rey and Kylo have laid their differences aside for a moment to join forces to destroy the Emperor? 

kylo and rey

Hmm, given that this creepy little old man has the stamina of a cockroach with a rotten life insurance policy, I find his easy demise hard to believe.

This floating chair throne is giving me major Thinker vibes (Season 4 of The Flash). The dark stillness of the room and the slow floating towards Rey is somehow the creepiest thing ever and her body language says that she agrees 100%.

rey and palp

I don’t know what Palpatine’s game plan is, but he is fascinating and an extremely cunning villain, so a final takedown of this menace will be beyond satisfying.

It’s time. Your day has come, Palpatine. We will get the last cackle.

7. Poe Dameron and The Spark

chewie, poe, finn

We’re not alone, good people will fight if we lead them.

The purpose and meaning of the Rebellion/Resistance have never been put into words and ideas more clearly than in the Sequel Trilogy. Despite the huge setbacks of the Original Trilogy, the numbers have never been lower for the heroes than they were at the end of of The Last Jedi.

And yet, they flew away from Crait with their shattered band of 7.5 people with a hope burning in their hearts because they knew the truth.

poe dameron hope

Star Wars may be a fictional world, but it is based upon reality. There is a gem here that we all need to hold onto.

Friends, we aren’t alone! Good people will fight if we lead them! So many people in this world are just waiting for someone to be brave enough and step up and say, “Let’s do this.”

That potential is inside all of us, regardless of the odds. We love Star Wars because it reminds us that no shadow, no Empire, no First Order can keep us from standing up and fighting back…and winning.

Light will always win over Dark, Light has the victory. The very music of this trailer is the music generations of us have been in love with for decades, but it has never sounded more hopeful than it does in this movie.

8. Rey And Her Identity

rey they know me

Everyone keeps telling me they know me, but no one does.

I do.

Seriously, Kylo? Are we still on this?

One of my absolute favorite things about Rey is that she doesn’t stay under a Lie for long.

It’s an old and tired song, but an effective one.

I know who you are…and it totally fits my evil agenda for you to believe everything I tell you.

Palpatine did it to Anakin. Maul tried to do it to Ezra. Palpatine tried to do it to Luke. Kylo tried to do it to Rey.

Our identity is everything. If we don’t know who we are then we get nowhere. We need to know who we are, why we are here, and where we belong.

Rey’s background makes her terribly vulnerable in this area, and Kylo tried to prey upon this vulnerability in The Last Jedi.

You come from nothing, you’re nothing…

…but not to me.

He tried desperately to get Rey to place her entire sense of purpose and value in him.

kylo

And she said no.

Rey always says no.

Confronting fear, it’s the destiny of a Jedi.

Rey’s biggest fear is that she is worthless. Everyone in her entire world until BB-8 and Finn arrived cemented the Lie that she was the dirt beneath people’s feet.

But the fire, the spirit inside of her knows better. 

And rather than running from this fear, rather than hiding from the world and her life, she has embraced it and jumped in with both feet.

I am worth something. I do have a purpose. I can make a difference. I won’t give up. I don’t have to believe what anyone says. 

I know who I am…

Rey is can be a role model to all of us. She’s stunningly beautiful in her vulnerable and confident humanity.

force with you always

9. So. Much. Joy.

Can you feel it?

Can you hear it?

The heartbeat of hope. And hope and joy often hold hands.

Star Wars has always been about hope. But joy has not always been present. We’ve seen beautiful moments of celebration.

Han and Luke returning to Leia after they destroy the Death Star.

The triumphant parade in The Phantom Menace.

The bonfire and dance in the Ewok Village.

finn woo yeah falcon

But we have had some pretty horrible lows.

“You were my brother, Anakin, I loved you.”

Han’s death.

Losing Caleb Dume.

Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order.

Luke’s final kiss to his sister.

We have faced devastating grief in this story.

But the way this trailer made me feel?

Just look at the characters, look at their faces.

smiling at chewbacca

Han used to look at Chewie like that. #iamfeelingsomanythings

They are still fighting for freedom, for survival. They still might die.

lando and chewie

But they are doing it together.

fighting together

They are going to enjoy the ride for however long it lasts. They are going to celebrate the victories, no matter how small.

They are going to live to the fullest in every moment.

whoooo

They are going to find strength in each other.

leia and rey

And they are going to charge into the battle strengthened by the truth of what they believe in.

riding horses

The gift that Star Wars has been to the world is immeasurable. The joy, the connection, the hope, and the delight it has brought people is beautiful.

Star Wars is timeless because it is the story of us, told in a galaxy far far away.

I love it. I am so excited. I’ll see you all in the theaters.

leia and rey 2

I can hardly wait for December to arrive, but in the meantime, we have a nice little consolation prize in The Mandalorian that will be available on Disney + November 12th. 

Other articles you might enjoy…

Star Wars: Every Story in the Galaxy

Star Wars Resistance: 10 Reasons Every Star Wars Fan Needs To See It

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Flash: Villains Ranked

Season 6 premiere of the popular DC show The Flash airs Tuesday, October 8th on The CW at 8/7c.

Barry Allen is the definition of what it means to be a hero. He is selfless, brave, loving, and redemptive. Barry Allen strikes a beautiful balance of being an imperfect human who continues to save the day over and over again by doing what is right.

Barry AllenIn storytelling, a good balance must be struck between the light and the dark. The Flash has had varied success in creating its Big Bads, and today I am going to rank them from Best Villain to Worst Villain.

The Reverse Flash

The electrifying villain of Season 1 has continued to dominate in all of the following seasons as the monster who is always hiding under the bed, just waiting for a chance to come out and wreak havoc again!

As far as origin stories go, I personally find Eobard’s “I could never be you so I became the reverse a pretty lame excuse for villainy. Then again, whoever said villains had to come up with decent excuses to be legitimate? Because Thawne is without a doubt the most solid villain to ever sully Central City.

Savitar

Every villain is meant to be either a reflection or warped version of Barry Allen himself. Savitar was actually a time remnant of Barry Allen, which made his intention to murder the love of Barry’s life (Iris) right in front of him seem even more twisted and horrific.

Season 1 has been my favorite season thus far but I have to say, Season 3 brought it when it came to terror! The entire Season felt like this horrible ticking clock that led to impending doom. Every episode bringing us a little closer to the edge of a cliff we could not escape from.

Savitar felt unbeatable, supernatural, and that made him an A+ villain in my opinion.

Season 3 really brought Barry full circle in the arc that he began with during Season 1,  and it took someone as close as himself threatening to take away the person Barry holds most dear to reach that point. The character work of this season was phenomenal and heartbreaking.

FYI – I am to this day still not over losing HR.

The Thinker

Season 4 was not my favorite, but no one can deny that DeVoe was a force to be reckoned with. He challenged Barry and Team Flash in a way that no speedster ever could. He began as an almost likable person with his beautiful house and supposedly “happy” marriage to his wife – a strange comparison to the unity and strength of Iris and Barry’s now marriage. Two couples going head to head, it was new take on the good vs. evil battle.

But as the season went on we saw just how rotten DeVoe was from the inside out. How meticulously he had planned everything. DeVoe was disgustingly arrogant and truly felt unbeatable! While his arrogance annoyed the heck out of me, it was nice to have a villain that was so hard to thwart (unlike the villain of Season 5).

I have to take issue with Barry’s “no-kill” rule here (and a few other places). While I would not want to rush to flip the switch on anyone, Barry literally begged Ralph not to kill DeVoe when they had the upper hand for the first time all season! At that moment, it was the only way DeVoe would have been defeated. Considering that DeVoe intended to alter the world and had no issue killing or controlling anyone (killing pregnant women, drugging his wife, etc), I don’t know,  Barry, I think we have a Hitler situation here.

It was a great triumph to me that love, a petty emotion DeVoe had scoffed at, was the chief reason he was defeated. The mind is great, the heart is greater!

Zoom

Zoom had a cool villain appeal. His very unpredictability made him a severely uncomfortable villain to have around. I don’t know how Team Flash could sit and drink coffee when they knew this creep could just zip in and rip them to pieces at the drop of a hat.

And yet, he fell somewhat short of his potential. He felt more like a deranged toddler running around and causing chaos just because he wanted to. He could have done so much more damage. While this definitely qualifies as “villainish” behavior, in comparison to villains like DeVoe and The Reverse Flash whose plans have plans, Zoom did not make the grade.

True, he was going to destroy the multiverse, but it was merely so he could be the fastest man in the universe. A rather childish ambition to the villain who had never grown up. Understandable, but the success/fear factor was outdone by the Master Planners like DeVoe/Reverse Flash and terrifying monsters like Savitar.

Cicada

Season 5 was intriguing with the new angle of Barry and Iris spending the entire season with their adult daughter. I am a sucker for a parent/child storyline, especially when the parents are almost the same age as their children. Barry has fatherhood potential written all over him, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the West-Allen family be together even if Nora could ruin a good thing in about five minutes.

But Cicada? Why was Cicada considered a strong enough Big Bad for an entire season of The Flash? The answer did not come until the true villain, The Reverse Flash, entered the picture. His scenes always upstaged Orlin or Grace Dwyers’ scenes, he was the truly villainous force this season, Dwyer barely felt like a sideshow.

Cicada could have been removed from circulation so many times and Team Flash was “foiled” in the most ridiculous ways. I get that we are living in a pretend world where mind-control gorillas and professor sharks are a thing, but that does not mean the believability in writing needs to be sloppy. It was horribly sloppy this season, and Cicada failed to strike fear in me at all.

Without a doubt, the King of Flash Big Bads is The Reverse Flash and considering that he started us off on this journey, perhaps that is only fair.

bloodwork

Bloodwork aka Dr. Ramsey Rosso is the new Big Bad for Season 6.

First impressions?

He looks as if he has potential. He’s not a speedster so clearly, the answer will not be just run faster. This is not just a mind or a speed game, it’s a new game altogether.

He’s a peer to Caitlin Snow (can this girl catch a break with anyone outside of Team Flash?), making him a known person to the team pre-villain years. Will he use this familiarity to his advantage?

His powers will be incredibly unique and gross.

He seems suave and self-assured without the opulent arrogance of DeVoe or the sneering attitude of Eobard Thawne. A calm villain is sometimes the most frightening.

I get a chilled feeling that he truly believes himself to be the hero of this story and those types always scare me the most. A villain with conviction who believes themselves to be the hero will go farther, justify more, and approach the battle in ways lesser villains will not. I fully anticipate all of that from Bloodwork.

So, I have ranked The Flash villains from best to worst. Do you agree with the rankings? What is your take on Bloodwork and the direction for Season 6? What will happen to Barry Allen during Crisis On Infinite Earths?

 

 

 

Star Wars Resistance: 10 Reasons Every Star Wars Fan Needs To See It

Placed in a very new era of Star Wars, Star Wars Resistance is the third animated series to tell untold stories of our favorite galaxy far, far away.

Reason 1: Dave Filoni Is A Jedi Master At Storytelling

Dave Filoni has earned my trust as a storyteller. He never ceases to intrigue me, surprise me, and leave me feeling as though I have been fed a rich and fantastic meal, even though the “cuisine” varies for every show.

swtcw

The Clone Wars was heavy with layers, awesome in the moment but also bearing the weight of the impending collapse of the Jedi Order/Republic and the rise of the Empire. We feel the clock ticking down in every episode as heroes and villains battle for dominance in the dying sun of an era.

The Clone Wars gave the Prequels a greater sense of purpose and meaning, and it taught us that even the battles that are lost in the moment still matter and pave the way for future victories.

rebels

Star Wars Rebels (my personal favorite) carried on the tradition with a much simpler approach to the story. We had a smaller cast of characters but got to go far deeper into the intimate familial relationships they created. The character development was gorgeous.

Threads that had begun in the Clone War era were woven into this raw and gritty Rebel world with the deft hand of a master weaver. Season 4 of Rebels contained some of the most breathtaking Star Wars storytelling and lore I have ever seen in my life.

Hope is the key theme of this series and it was fully respected. I ended the show in tearful wonder.

Each of these stories has the potential to merely be a copy of its predecessor show(s), and certainly mirroring scenes, as well as crossover storylines/characters, are used to each story’s advantage.

But Dave always makes something entirely new while maintaining the same heart in all of his work. It’s a delight to see each new thing created by this man because he has a gift.

Reason 2: Star Wars Resistance Will Only Have 2 Seasons

I do really enjoy this show, so I am sure that when the final credits roll I will feel some sadness about it ending. However, only 2 seasons means that they have a plan and they know where they are going to wrap up the story beautifully. 

I will take 2 well-written, well-crafted seasons over Season after Season that gets watered down and wanders as the writers drift into apathy and unnecessary, trumped-up romantic drama. Or aliens.

Then again, this is Star Wars, so aliens wouldn’t really stand out that much.

Reason 3: The Timeline Is Current To Our Sequel Trilogy.

Season 1 begins 6 months before the events of The Force Awakens and ends on a cliffhanger during the events at the end of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

It’s so neat to be experiencing a show that is in “real-time” with the movies we are currently enjoying. Filoni has connected the show with the movie story so perfectly.

You know what happens in The Force Awakens, this is the story leading up to that story. We get a delightful peek into the build-up and behind-the-scenes of The First Order, The Resistance, and some of the chief characters who are at the center of these dramatic events.

kazua and the resistance

The new season will serve as a bridge story that takes place between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.  “The final season of Resistance takes place during The Last Jedi and leading up to the events of The Rise of Skywalker,” a Disney rep said. “With the movie coming up in December, this was a natural place to end the show with an epic finale.”

Reason 4: Kazuda Xiono Is Truly the Most Unlikely Hero For the Main Character

Our previous show MC’s were both Jedi proteges, Ahsoka Tano, and Ezra Bridger. Both of those characters were very intuitive, had street smarts and raw skills that gave them a leg up on their journey to becoming some of the most powerful characters we’ve ever met.

The movie MC’s have also been “Chosen One” levels of awesome.

And Kazuda? Well…he’s a…” good person”.

kazuda closeup

This kid could choke on the air without breaking a sweat. He essentially does half of the time. You’d think that would be annoying but in actuality…

He’s kind of crazy adorable.

Kazuda Xiono is the son of a wealthy senator in the New Republic on Hosnian Prime. He grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and was trained by the best in the New Republic Navy.

He is an incredibly skilled pilot, but he didn’t gain any real-life skills until a mission to deliver a message to the Resistance put him in the direct path of none other than Poe Dameron.

poe and kazuda

Poe sees something in Kaz, a spark of potential that he is willing to blow into a flame.

Kaz leaves everything he knows overnight to be stationed on a remote oil platform and spy on behalf of the Resistance, gaining intel about the platform and potential First Order involvement.

And he’s terrible at it…for a while.

kazuda awkward

This kid has no practical skills, no idea what anything costs or is worth, and is about as low-key as a town parade. Why on earth did Poe choose him to be a spy?

The greatest gift of this show (and there are many) is watching Kaz grow and succeed against all odds, even against himself.

His determination to not let Poe down, as well as his genuine love and concern for the people around him, transforms this awkward and messy kid into a brave leader. By the end of Season 1, we too see what Poe saw within Kaz.

kazuda getting serious

The New Era of Star Wars is all about the idea that anyone can make a difference, whether you are a stormtrooper, a scavenger, or a spoiled rich kid with a heart that’s often bigger than your brain. Resistance emphasizes this concept in a very visual way with the character of Kaz. It’s deeply encouraging.

Reason 5: Poe Dameron

Oscar Isaac is the most believable voice role I have ever heard in my life. If you have not gotten enough of a Poe Dameron fix from the movies then watch this show!

poe

Poe carries himself with the same lazy grace and daring decision making as he does in the movies. He’s 100% the Poe of the big screen, even down to his “selective hearing” when it comes to General Organa’s orders.

Oh yes, that makes for a purely delicious episode.

These flaws and tension in regards to his character add to the realism. To Kaz, he’s a hero and a mentor. But Poe still has room for growth, as we all do.

IMAGE DESCRIPTION DATA

Poe shows up quite a few times throughout this series, and some of my favorite episodes include the ones where he and Kaz go on “missions” together. They are the kinds of episodes that, while still moving the story forward, are made by a fan for the fans who want to have a good time.

And any moment when Poe is on screen he is giving you a good time.

poe on mission

The Poe and BB-8 love is as strong as ever, which leads me to my next Reason.

Reason 6: BB-8

To me, BB-8 is the best thing since sliced bread.

kaz and bb8

Every Star Wars story is marked by a remarkable droid. The Sequel Era is truly BB-8’s domain, and like every other droid in every other story, BB-8 essentially keeps everyone alive all the time.

IMAGE DESCRIPTION DATA

We get to see even more of his quick wits and antics, and as well as a hint of droid romance that just delighted my soul. How is it possible to love a little metal sphere this much?

bb8 and his girl

Reason 7: The World Is Fascinating

The Colossus is an oil platform in the Outer Rim. It’s a very self-contained and yet colorful world. This rig runs on an “everyone in their place” system that is both orderly and also confining to many of the characters.

the market resistance

The Colossus only works if everyone does their job, which makes for a sense of community that is hugely important for various parts of the show.

resistance oil platform

The most exciting aspect of this world is the regular sky races and the team of crack pilots known as “the aces”. They are the local celebrities as well as the protection force called upon when pirates attack. It’s a distinct culture where skilled pilots with good equipment sit at the top of the food chain.

oil platform

There are the local regulars who add flavor and spice to the story.

Still, the constant threat of pirates and the regular visits from First Order officers remind the characters that they are not as “remote” and “safe” as they would like to believe.

the parts store resistance.jpg

This world is distinctly Star Wars without having any visible connection to The Force, the planets/systems we are more familiar with, or any Force-sensitive characters.

It’s exotic, it’s full of unique species and people, it has its local heroes and villains. It has its “monsters”, local politics, and time-honored traditions.

The animation is b-r-e-a-t-h-t-a-k-i-n-g.

We’ve stopped off at places like this before in Star Wars stories, but never have we set up shop in one. The setting is a delightful treat.

the races resistance

Reason 8: The First Order Is An Unkown

As an audience, our first introduction to The First Order came through the eyes of characters who knew their threat well.

Finn fled its cruel tyranny. Poe was teething and fighting The First Order at the same time. Leia has been at war with these kinds of baddies her entire life, she was literally birthed at the beginning of the struggle. Rey was introduced to them via surprise air raid.

first order jerks

But the characters of Resistance? To them, The First Order is unknown.

Is it the oppressive Empire all over again? Is it a vague and irritating shadow? If we just mind our own business the First Order will surely mind theirs…right? What if they are actually here to help us?

It is a neat perspective to see how different characters view TFO and how the unfolding story affects them. Off-hand comments and lightly expressed perspectives suddenly gain intensity and weight as life gets more serious.

As the season builds towards the climax, the audience sees the stars aligning to the well-known events of The Force Awakens and the tragedies that are unsuspecting characters are in for. If only we could warn them.

It’s painful to see the places where ignorance and deception in regards to The First Order’s villainy lead characters into places of loss and heartache.

The First Order

Reason 9: Responsibility, Discovery, Redemption Tragedy, and Betrayal Take It To the Next Level

kazuda spy

Dave Filoni lulls us into a false sense of security with Resistance. He uses a much lighter touch with these characters as well as a more relaxed and goofy sense of humor. This is certainly the most “kid-friendly” series he’s made thus far.

IMAGE DESCRIPTION DATA

But do not let that light touch fool you, this show tells a compelling story that brings many characters on a journey with real themes. Some things will lift your spirits, other things will break your heart.

kaz and yeager

There is redemption. There is growth. There is deception. There is betrayal. There is loss. There is triumph.

It. Gets. Real.

hosnian prime gone

Reason 10: We Ended On A Cliffhanger Heading Into Uncharted Story Territory

For once we don’t know everything that’s going to happen next, just like our characters.

We know what more of what they are capable of and where they still need to grow. Our characters have surprised us and taken us on a journey.

But starting Season 2, we all know their biggest battles are yet to come.

It’s not the longest Star Wars ride we’ve ever been offered, but it’s a good one.

commander oil platform

There are still unanswered questions, looming threats, and broken hearts.

Star Wars of any era carries that golden quality that sets the really good stories apart from the mediocre ones.

It’s constantly showing us a reflection of our real world and our real stories.

This reflection just happens to take place in a galaxy far, far away.

the bowels of the oil platform

Star Wars Resistance returns on October 6, 2019, on Disney XD. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thor 4, Why I Don’t Want It

Yesterday it was announced that Taika Wahiti (Thor: Ragnarok) would be directing the fourth installment of the Thor movies, starring Chris Hemsworth…

…wait, the fourth installment??? Did we actually ask for a Thor 4?

Without a doubt, there are going to be fans who are excited about this. Not all fans feel negative about the road Thor’s character has taken. Those fans are having a really great day right now, and I do not begrudge them that.

(Y’all, if Captain America 4 were ever announced you would hear me give the squeal heard around the world, so I get it).

I, however, am not at all pleased with where Thor ended up when the credits rolled in Endgame.

Please, stop disrespecting Thor even more than you already have.

I was a fan of the first two Thor movies. His first film was actually my introduction into the MCU and I loved it, I loved him.

angry thor

His transformation from Grade A royal jerk to a compassionate hero was lovely. I liked him and Jane together. I loved how powerful he was. I thoroughly enjoyed his involvement in both The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Ragnarok was a deep disappointment to me. To drastically change the tone of Thor’s storytelling and practically obliterate all ties to his earlier movies on the third installment of his series was awful to me. It felt like someone had accidentally picked up a Guardians of the Galaxy script and a “Thor” movie was made instead.

That being said, even I can admit that Ragnarok was a proper continuation of Thor’s character arc. Ragnarok pushed Thor to a place that 4 previous movies hadn’t been able to get him yet.

Thor became the king.

It was a nice arc and Ragnarok was a vital part of that.

thor background.jpg

Thor: He learns what truly makes a hero, he learns humility and kindness. He uses his might to protect rather than ravage. He begins to have an appreciation for humans. He learns what worthiness actually is as he becomes worthy of the hammer. It’s glorious.

The Avengers: He grows beyond just an almost patronizing appreciation “I must protect these infants” for humans and learns to see them as comrades and equals. He joins a team rather than fighting alone. He chooses what is right over family loyalty.

Thor 2: Again, he chooses what is right over family loyalty. His father is an idiot, Thor goes against his father and commits treason because it is right. He chooses to love someone even though it may devastate him later on. And he chooses to be honest with his father about his lack of desire to be king.

thor and his father

Age of Ultron: Thor sees the beginning pieces of Thanos’ plan as well as the future of Ragnarok. This sets him off on a journey of discovery across the cosmos and sets a lot of things in motion.

thors vision

Ragnorok: Through the exposure of Loki’s deception, Odin’s death, and Hela’s unleashing on Asgard, Thor has to finally step up to the plate to become who he was born to be.

thor gladiator

He loses everything, his father, his hammer, and his dignity as he is reduced to being a gladiator for sport. It’s a lot of hits at once. He feels very low but he refuses to give in to grief as his desire to take care of his people and do right by them is stronger. #hero

Against all odds, Thor makes it back to Asgard where has to fight his sister, the goddess of death, without his hammer. He is mighty but at this moment she is mightier. Until he ends up in a vision where his father reveals the truth, “Are you Thor, the god of hammers? The hammer was only to help you channel your power.” And the final bit of encouragement that we have all known about Odin and Thor, “I’m not as strong as you.” “No, you’re stronger.”

Next up is the most epic takedown and my favorite part of Ragnorok (THIS IS THOR) where the god of Thunder blasts his sister and her armies with his lightning because THAT’S who he is!

Ragnarok ends where Thor has to allow the destruction of Asgard in order to save the true heart of Asgard, his people.

He is down one eye but looks very regal and handsome as he is crowned king and takes his “throne” aboard a borrowed ship among the surviving Asgardians and a ragtag group of friends. His brother is at his side once more and we hear the same coronation music we began this journey with back in 2011. It was really, really nice.

thor in arena.jpg

  • Thor had to gain humility and perspective before he was ready to be king.
  • His knowledge of the greater universe enabled him to be exactly what Asgard needed when they needed him most. Odin could never have been what Thor is.
  • He forgave Loki and paved the way for them to rejoin as brothers and friends.
  • He brought Valkyrie back from her drunken despair and gave her purpose.
  • He saved Bruce and destroyed Hela.
  • He had to grow beyond the hammer and he did an awesome job. And it was THEN and only then, after all of this learning and connecting with other people that he became the king he was born to be.

Infinity War: Enter, Thanos. Thanos never played fair, so, I don’t blame Thor for any of this mess. To me, the Thor of Infinity War was the most glorious Thor I have ever seen. He was the perfect combination of all that he had been and all that he was becoming. He WAS the god of Thunder, his arrival on the field of battle in Wakanda is one of my top 3 moments in that movie.

infinity war thor

Thor still made mistakes (GO FOR THE HEAD) as did all of our heroes. And I knew Thor needed to have a meltdown at some point. You cannot lose literally everything and never break down.

Endgame: Thor tries to defeat Thanos, and while he does kill him, the damage done by that Purple Abomination cannot be undone. So Thor disappears into New Asgard and becomes a drunken pile of a depressed man.

chunky thor

Believe it or not, I was actually pleased with this. I needed Thor to be human enough to fall apart after all of the hellish things he’d been through. I felt that this was appropriate, all the more so for how handsome and grand he is. That beer belly didn’t bother me, the tears in his eyes just made me ache more.

Thor is brought back into the action by his friends who still believe in him. He contributes what he can to the plan, and then he goes back in time with Rocket (love this pairing) to the day his mother died in order to retrieve the Reality Stone.

I loved this part. I felt like it restored some of the first two Thor movies to us.

Thor is totally falling apart, and Rocket has to be the one to save the day. #thisracoongetsitdone

Oh! But that scene with Thor’s beautiful mother, Frigga! I loved, loved, LOVED that scene! I have always felt that she was an underused character, a rich well of untapped potential. Odin was a mostly rotten father, but Frigga? What a mother!

thor and his mother

Thor needs his mama, that great and mighty god of Thunder who has fallen so low just needed his mama to look into his eyes and actually see him.

He needed her to gently brush back his matted hair as if he’s still arrayed in royal robes and love him as only a mother can. She listened. She encouraged. She blessed him, and she told him with so much love and compassion to eat a salad. It was such a gift, that scene.

And that moment gave Thor the courage to face the final conflict against Thanos. He is still worthy, Mjolnir still comes to him. It’s a beautiful moment of encouragement for anyone who has ever faced grief and depression.

thor depression

He fights the battle well and we see once more, the god of Thunder is still with us.

thor endgame battle.gif

Thor is among the victorious Avengers who are still standing when the dust settles *sobs* and he returns to his people in New Asgard to begin a new life as their king. He’s been humbled and is raw, but he is still a worthy hero and he deserves a second chance, what a triumph…

…oh wait, no, he actually decides to become a homeless man and go traipsing around space with the Guardians?!?!

He leaves New Asgard in the hands of Valkyrie whom we have only known for a movie and a half? Didn’t he already give up a chance to be king once before, only to take the throne in Ragnarok because he was finally ready???

You mean to tell me that I just went through 6+ movies of bringing Thor to this incredible place of a complete arc where he actually became his own kind of king despite every obstacle —only to have him be treated like some half-eaten leftovers that the filmmakers wanted to put in the freezer to reheat later???

Thor + Starlord for about 5 minutes = funny.

Thor + Starlord for a long time = disrespecting both characters.

thor and starlord

Starlord was already given a raw deal in both Infinity War and Endgame. He was treated like a laughingstock and idiot. Is he sometimes an idiot? Absolutely. Has he been through horrible things and grown immensely as a character and made grown-up/mature/hard decisions on behalf of other people? YES! WATCH HIS DADGUM MOVIES! He’s saved the Galaxy twice!

And Thor, Thor is funny, but he is NOT a laughingstock! Stop it!

Both of these characters deserve to be worth more than just a laugh.

And as for Thor 4?

If Thor had actually made the harder choice to go back to New Asgard, face his people in humility, and try again, I would actually be looking forward to Thor 4. I am curious about this New Asgard, how the Asgardians and the humans interact.

Thor has almost become a child of two realms, Earth and Asgard, he would make a neat king. Would he find someone new to love? Would some more of those “ancient enemies” that the Asgardians seem to have a cabinetful of show up and we could see an awesome alliance of Asgardians and Norwegian fisherman against Said Ancient Foes? What is living in New Asgard like in 2023?

Thor’s choice in the final moments of Endgame was not only out of character for him, it pretty much stabbed in the back a beautiful character arc that has been in the works for 6+ movies.

I was so, so, so disappointed. Thor is one of the Big 3, both Steve and Tony had stunningly gorgeous arcs that ended appropriately for their characters. And Thor was left as a homeless man.

the big three endgame

Dear Marvel, I don’t know if you are trying to replicate the success of Ragnarok or what, but I sincerely doubt that’s ever going to happen. Too many people are disappointed, too much has happened. Let a dead thing lie, don’t try to stir it up again.

Marvel is more than welcome to prove me wrong, I wish nothing but the best for the people involved in this film. I’m not a crazed jerk who starts uttering death threats just because I don’t want a movie.

I just cannot fathom why Thor 4 would be their first choice when we have so many other, fresher characters to work with. You think Thor (who is a strung-out character) is a good use of your resources when you are literally the top dog right now???

ragnarok is it though.gif

#yesijustwantedtousethisgif #youwouldtoo

I have to wait on another Ant-Man and the Wasp but you have time for Thor 4???

For the first time in my life, I don’t want another Marvel movie.

So, are you #TeamThor4 or are you #NoMoreThor? What do you think the next installment will be about? Were you excited to hear about Thor potentially joining the Guardians? I’d love to hear any and all opinions.

 

 

Aladdin

One Jump Ahead

“Riffraff,” “Street rat”
I don’t buy that
If only they’d look closer
Would they see a poor boy?
No, sirree
They’d find out
There’s so much more to me…

Speechless

Here comes a wave meant to wash me away
A tide that is taking me under
Swallowing sand, left with nothing to say
My voice drowned out in the thunder…

…I won’t be silenced
You can’t keep me quiet
Won’t tremble when you try it
All I know is I won’t go speechless
‘Cause I’ll breathe
When they try to suffocate me
Don’t you underestimate me
‘Cause I know that I won’t go speechless

To be heard.

To be seen.

To be known.

This, my friends, was the purpose of Aladdin.

I want to discuss a few scenes that stood out to me as hugely important for the story, but even more than that, they rang true for the world we live in.

Scene 1: Aladdin giving up his dates for the starving boy. Aladdin intervening on Jasmine’s behalf in the marketplace. Aladdin saving the girl from being trampled by Prince Ander’s entourage.

A combination of many small moments that clearly define Aladdin’s heart. He is a colorful character with large helpings of mischief and insecurities, but there is one overwhelming fact about who he is.

Aladdin is a prince

He is the diamond in the rough. Aladdin essentially lives hand to mouth, but he is not completely self-focused. He sees the needs of those around him and intervenes on their behalf.

It is this heart that wins Jasmine over. She’s seen enough glittery people to last a lifetime, what she longs for is substance. She finds substance in this street boy with a big smile and kind eyes.

Substance over style. Style fades, substance grows.

Scene 2: The Best First Date Ever

Likely the most iconic Aladdin scene in existence, the magic carpet ride where Jasmine and Aladdin get a chance to connect is beautiful.

In the animated movie, we see our two lovebirds fly around well known worldwide landmarks such as the Sphinx in Egypt or the Great Wall of China.

In this version, the landscape is far less defined or varied. I believe this was done for the purpose of enabling the audience to focus in more on the two people in the scene and their intentional interaction with each other.

One moment Jasmine is holding onto Aladdin’s arm as he makes a steep turn, another moment he’s handing her the “reins” so she can have a turn flying. They are singing together, he’s looking at her with pure delight because of her joyful response. She is enthralled with the opportunity he has given her to be 100% herself at this moment.

He loves conversing with her and he wants to hear what she has to say.

She SEES him. He HEARS her Aladdin

They communicate.

You can see the power created by these two. Aladdin’s life experience and mingled with Jasmine’s authority and education make them the perfect couple to lead Agrabah into the future. They share a similar heart that points them both in the same direction.

So many people are struggling with communication. So many people are involved in power struggles with one another that not only cause them harm, but also those around them who depend upon them.

Jasmine and Aladdin struggle, just like anyone else, but they persevere, and when the credits roll they have reached a strong place of connection.

Jaladdin communicating

Scene 3: Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar. Jasmine’s almost wedding to Jafar.

The new song “Speechless” is one that brought tears to my eyes. We need to be paying attention right here. The two cultures represented in this fictional world are the Arab/Middle Eastern culture, and the Indian culture. Jasmine represents both.

These two cultures are among the worst in the world for how horribly they abuse and oppress their women. Many Middle Eastern women are wrapped up from head to toe, they cannot drive, they cannot be educated, they cannot work, they cannot even go places without a male escort.

They are not to be seen and certainly not to be heard! Women are treated like despised objects or pretty toys to be used on a whim.

*This may not be the case for every woman or family in these countries, it is not in any way my intention to claim that or disrespect those who are from these places but not living this way. But the injustice I speak of is a true reality for millions, and we need to be willing to stand up and acknowledge that without fear of “offending” someone. These women deserve more courageous actions on their behalf.

In India, millions of women have been downtrodden for centuries. Many of the old traditions are harsh on women. If a woman cannot produce children (which is often the result of abuse or malnutrition), she is often scorned and abused by either her husband and or her in-laws. Women fear to walk to someplace as necessary as the village well for fear of being raped or murdered on the way. Oh yes, rape often isn’t even treated as a crime. Thousands of women have died from starvation, abuse, murder, malnutrition, or working themselves to death. 

These silenced, abused, downtrodden women are crying out for a voice.

Jasmine essentially a prisoner in a golden cage.

Jafar takes personal pleasure in controlling and silencing Jasmine.

The look of glittering delight in Jafar’s eyes as he forces her to speak vows of marriage to him turned my stomach. I saw that scene in horror, as I can imagine just how many precious women throughout history have found themselves in the same situation. Unlike Jasmine, however, there was no one coming on a magic carpet to give them a way of escape.

This scene was a cry for justice. A cry for the women Jasmine represents who are precious and beautiful, who have amazing things to share with the world. These women who remain unseen, unheard, buried.

jasmine giving a voice

I know I went out of order here, but let’s talk about Jasmine’s confrontation with Jafar that happened before her forced almost-marriage.

She is being led away by the guards who were her own servants but a moment before. Her beloved father and handmaiden are unable to help her. She had to silence Rajah (who was glorious) to keep him safe.

In her mind’s eye, she pictures everyone else disappearing, every person who is an obstacle to what she knows is right. She cannot be silent, not this time!

Rather than just swallowing it again, Jasmine makes her stand.

She speaks out in a strong voice. She ignores the degrading words of Jafar and focuses all of her energy on speaking to Hakim, the noble lead guard who truly desires to do what is right.

Jasmine speaks to him personally, she knows his story and she cares about it. She appeals to his integrity and deepest desire to do the right thing. She exposes her deep heart of love and compassion for “my people”. And she gives him an opportunity to change his course of action. At this moment with the information they have, Hakim is a pivotal character for what happens next.

Jasmine sees him, she calls him by name. She knows his story and his heart, which means she has heard him. Jasmine does not speak on her behalf but rather on the behalf of her people, he and his people are her priority. And Jasmine gives him an opportunity to make a different choice, she gives him a chance to be his best self.

Jasmine true, sacrificial leadership.

Jafar may as well be a shadow in the back of the room, all of Jasmine’s focus is on Hakim and the future of Agrabah. She doesn’t attack, she doesn’t tear Hakim down, she builds him up with truth and calls the good man out of him.

It’s a beautiful, powerful, encouraging scene. While it seemed to do little good at the moment, it does truly change everyone’s future as Jasmine unconsciously opens her father’s eyes to her true worth as a strong and virtuous leader for Agrabah.

Scene 4: Aladdin Selflessly Walks Away

Both Aladdin and Jasmine are given opportunities to be heroic in the climax of this movie, but it is called Aladdin for a reason. When it comes down to it, Aladdin is the one who has to defeat Jafar.

Aladdin is not a brawny warrior like Hercules. He’s not a gallant and gorgeously arrayed prince like Phillip or Charming or even Beast once he’s been declawed. Aladdin is very simple and straightforward.

The reason Aladdin became “Prince Ali” and got himself involved in this mess was a noble one, he loved a girl and wanted to win her heart. During that time he has been stripped down to the core of his deepest longings and hurts, and he almost loses focus on who he is because of it.

Aladdin humbled

But here is where the diamond comes out.

Aladdin has the humility to recognize his mistakes and turn them into life experience. He sees the flaw in Jafar’s arrogant plan and manipulates Jafar into a natural course of actions and consequences. Jafar’s own pride and ambition lead him to the prison he chose for himself. #poeticjustice

Aladdin just saved the day. He could reason out that he deserves another wish, a wish that could elevate him in the eyes of the world and especially the eyes of the woman he loves. Instead, he again shows that selfless spirit and keeps his promise to free Genie even though it gains him nothing materially.

Aladdin just saved the royal family, an arrogant “hero” would demand recompense.

He does not. He looks at Jasmine, still loving her as much as the first day he met her, and he apologizes. He looks at everyone with humility and respect and walks away. #thisissosexy #jaladdinforever

As Aladdin walks out of the palace to return to Agrabah’s streets, he looks down at Jasmine’s hair barret with deep tenderness. He loves her and treasures her, and he always will. But because he loves her he is willing to walk away because he believes that is what is best for her.

True love Jaladdin

Jasmine has been treated as a pretty bird in a cage. Not a person.

A mere prize to be won, not a heart to fall in love with.

An obstacle to control or crush (I’m lookin’ at you, Jafar).

A child who must remain hidden for her protection. Not a mature young woman.

It’s all about what someone can get from her, or keep from her, or keep her from.

Jaladdin giving her his best.It was humble, it was peaceful, it was confident. Somehow Aladdin walks out of that gate with his head held high because he now knows his own worth, and he stayed true to his noble heart.

Yeah, I’d run after him too, Jasmine. #substanceoverstyle #diamondintherough #putaringonit #jaladdin

I loved that Jasmine runs to him on the street by herself. No guards, no entourage, no handmaiden or father. She may be the sultan now (a quick line that she uses to tease him) but she truly comes to him as herself. He heard her, he knew her for who she was when no one else did.

It’s humble, it’s normal, it’s sweet. And they have a beautiful kiss among their people, in the streets where they came together, in the streets of the place they both love.jladdin kiss

Jasmine knew her own worth but struggled to be heard. Aladdin doubted his own worth, he struggled to be seen.

 

Jasmine saw Aladdin, and Aladdin heard Jasmine.

And God saw that it was good, people. It was good.

Genie

Holy cow! Y’all, what? Robin Williams created Genie, and no one can ever replace him! Will Smith not only honored the character Williams created but he also didn’t try to replace him, he became his own Genie.

Genie took me by surprise multiple times, while he was not anywhere near as spastic as Robin’s Genie, he was regularly unexpected.

The Genie/Dalia romance was brilliantly used to fill in the story/characters and add a lighter balance to the romance scale. Jaladdin was dealing with heavy-duty issues that held kingdoms in the balance, Denie was talking about goats and boats. We needed both. #denie #jaladdin

DenieI can’t imagine being trapped and forced to do the will of whatever jerk happened to grab your lamp and give it a rub. If you actually consider Genie’s life, it’s pretty horrible.

Genie fell in love with Dalia, and he desired a normal life. He has all the power in the world and yet he’s as much a prisoner as someone in a dungeon. Dalia increased my longing for Genie’s freedom. When Dalia was being pressed down by Jafar’s dark power Genie’s sorrowful face for the woman he loves made my heart hurt. He was helpless to protect her.

This isn’t funny anymore, this is real.

The look of pure shock and deep emotion on Genie’s face when he realizes he is free was a beautiful moment. I loved the hug he gave Aladdin. The hug+his face spoke volumes.

genie and aladdin

I wasn’t overly fond of how the movie began, I felt it had a weak opening, but by the end, I was in love.

I did enjoy the first shot that skimmed over Jafar in the desert, Jasmine in her palace, and the torchlit houses of Agrabah.

But I felt that they rushed through the iconic scene of Aladdin weaving his way through the streets, stealing and smirking aka making a nuisance of himself. And since they made the decision to combine Aladdin’s first introduction with him and Jasmine meeting for the first time, I think they should have given it a less choppy, sped-up rhythm. It was an unnecessary sacrifice that bought them nothing.

I recognize that the filmmakers wanted to flesh out other parts of the story more, and I respect that. I just do not think they made the right call in how to carry that out.

Let’s talk Jafar.

I heard some people complaining that Jafar was too weak. He didn’t look or sound as scary as the animated one.

Ahem…have y’all seen the animated one? The animated Jafar is not anatomically correct. Animated characters are often exaggerated for effect or to bring across a specific message.

So please, drop that argument. This is supposed to look real, this is a real human playing this character.

And Jafar? Jafar was savage. 

Jafar was a perfect villain

Real villains aren’t always weirdly shaped with angry eyebrows and menacing voices. They are often normal-looking people with dark hearts. Jafar was a villain who was all too real, he reminded me of some true villains from history. Jafar was also supposed to be a dark reflection of Aladdin, someone who Aladdin could have been. Jafar even makes the comparison to Aladdin outside of The Cave of Wonders.

Jafar made my blood boil. 10/10 villain status.

This is the first live-action Disney Prince(ess) movie that I feel could actually support a sequel.

I have loved all of the live-action remakes up to this point. But I do not think that all of them need sequels. Cinderella was a very intimate, self-contained story. It was perfect. Beauty and the Beast was a more complicated tale, but it finished itself well at the ending. You feel whole by the end of both films.

While Aladdin also leaves you feeling deeply satisfied, you also have room for more.

REASONS ALADDIN CAN ACTUALLY SUPPORT A SEQUEL

I was utterly delighted in this movie, they got the big things correct and made room for fleshing out the story and characters. They delivered big moments and characters while also filling in a thousand tiny details (magic carpet building a sandcastle, anyone?)

Aladdin is my favorite old prince(ss) movie. I was so excited for this live-action version and I was not disappointed. I am enjoying myself immensely and I cannot wait for more!

a whole new world gif

Disney Live-Action Remakes: Not Losing What We Have, But Becoming More of Who We Are

Disney: Why Disney+ is a Good Thing

Frozen II

FinnRey Is True, Sacrificial Love

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Jedi: Where No One Had Gone Before

The Last Jedi went into uncharted territory. It scared the crap out of us. It broke the “rules”. It challenged our expectations and cliches. It was bold with the Force. It took our characters and tossed each of them into their worst-case-scenario. It showed broken heroes and villains.

Can I even venture to say?

The Last Jedi was the deepest main saga Star Wars movie to date.

It is not a perfect movie with zero flaws, nor do I say the most beloved. There is something magical about A New Hope. My personal favorite for a long time was The Empire Strikes Back (best time ever), and now TESB is tied with The Force Awakens in my affections.

The most basic piece of writing advice storytellers are given is this…

Find out what your character wants…and then do everything in your power to keep them from getting it.

Harsh, huh? And yet, it’s compelling.

Kylo Ren wants peace.

Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren feels thrown about by his life. He wants to finally feel he is in control of his destiny. The turmoil inside of him is eating it up. He believes he can reach this place of “peace” by resetting the game board and crowning himself king. Control everyone and everything…that’s the answer, right?

Rey wants a sense of belonging and identity.

Rey has felt abandoned her whole life. She’s been waiting for people to make her belong, to give her worth. Now she has this whole new can of worms called The Force and she wants someone older and wiser to guide her in it. Secretly she is hoping that Luke as her mentor can give her that sense of belonging and value.

Leia wants a legacy.

She’s been in this fight since the day of her birth. She has sacrificed everything. Her beloved husband is gone. Her son is now her enemy. Her brother is missing. Her people are few in number and on the run. Will there be anyone to take up the gauntlet and continue this all-important battle for freedom that has been her life’s work?

Poe wants his people to survive.

Poe has natural giftings as a leader. He’s brave, he’s kind, he’s insanely talented. He knows he can make a difference in this fight that he’s grown up in. He’ll give his last drop of blood to ensure that happens.

Finn wants the one person he loves most to be okay.

Finn has found one thing to fight for up to this point: Rey. She’s his primary object and sole focus. Rey has to have somewhere safe to return to.

Luke wants to die alone and bitter. He wants to punish himself for his failure.

At least…that’s what he thinks he wants.

Rose wants her sister’s sacrifice to count for something, and she’s sick of people dying.

She’s lost everything up to this point. She’s done with that.

Hux wants respect.

He gets treated like a buffoon…huh, wonder why that is?

Snoke wants…uh…he wants…control?

Yeah, ahem, Mr. Rian? You kinda left us hanging on that one. Hoping Abrams can fill in the gaps here, Snoke was too big a presence to just disappear from the story after one highly efficient lightsaber stroke.

Vice-Admiral Holdo wants her people to survive.

Huh, sound similar to anyone else we know? How about SHARING SOME INFO UP FRONT WITH YOUR PEOPLE ON THE SAME SIDE??? C’mon, Ellie!

Chewbacca wants a new friend.

*aggressive sobbing*

ptumblr_lthxchgx7g1qzzwmb

BB8 wants to be a part of everything.

Our baby droid is really the only one who gets what he wants from start to finish and has an utterly fantastic time all the way through.

bb8 thumbs up

It was like pulling teeth with pliers for every character to attempt to reach their goal in this movie. It was almost like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day made into a Star Wars film.

Somehow, if it could go wrong, it did go wrong…right until the very end.

Because here is the follow-up piece of writing advice to the one I mentioned previously.

The characters must prevail, and they come out having defeated the obstacle, lie, villain, etc, and have grown in the process.

Let’s start with the heroes. How did they end up?

Rey chose her identity apart from her past or any other person.

rey the last jedi

She wanted a mentor. She wanted a dad. I get that. But people let you down, sometimes you cannot find what you want. What do you do then? You decide. “Who am I going to be regardless of what happens around me?” Rey decided, and she emerged as a shining beacon of new hope and the future for the Jedi.

Leia has a legacy.

leia on crait

We see it in the mentorship she gives her surrogate son Poe. She trains him on how to become a leader that will last. We see it in the determination of new Rebel recruits such as Finn. We see it in the enduring fire of characters like Rose and Holdo. We see it in the gleam in Rey’s eyes as she rejects Kylo Ren’s offer of power and instead chooses freedom. Leia’s life work has not been in vain, the fight will continue.

Poe leads his people to survival.

Yes, there are like 7.5 of them, but…

poe dameron hope

Poe was pushed far beyond his comfort zone, and he rose to the occasion. He’s already got incredible talent but in the end, he was going to lead his people to destruction if he did not learn the wisdom required to lead. He learned, and the future of the Rebels will now be secure.

Finn’s original goal was to make sure Rey was safe. He at first believes that to be his only mission. By the end, he chooses to join the Resistance for his own sake. This does not mean he loves Rey any less, it just means he has finally come into his own.

finn the last jedi

And as a delightful bonus, because Finn chooses to stick with the Resistance despite the “loser” circumstances, he was right where he needed to be to reunite with the person who feels like home to him.

finnrey hug last jedi.gif

Yes, a FinnRey post is totally in works. And no, I will not disclose how many times I have watched this hug. That’s none of your business.

Luke dies…but not the way he thought he wanted to. He instead dies in peace, a legend who has forever changed the galaxy. This is the fulfillment of the original goal he had as a youth who stared off into the sunsets and dreamed of adventures.

luke skywalker the last jedi

It’s poetic, it’s epic. Luke dies, but he is not completing the shallow and self-piteous arc of his elder years. No, instead he completes the much deeper and meaningful arc that we began in A New Hope. We have come full circle. And in all honesty, can we actually say that this giant of the Force is actually gone?

Rose saves the people she loves, making her sister’s sacrifice and everything up to this point worth it.

rose the last jedi

Rose is a simple and straightforward character, but she represents a new attitude for this fight. Surviving to fight another day is just as if not more valuable than sacrifice.  We’ve watched single to entire casts of beloved characters (*coughs* Rogue One) sacrifice themselves for the cause. FYI, I’m still hurting over Caleb Dume.

We admire and respect their sacrifice, and those deaths had their place. But winning is also about life, not just death. Rose represents life.

Ahem, yes, she saved the people she loves. Yeah, I saw that kiss too. That one, tiny little kiss that sent a whole crowd of people like sheep to the slaughter with the belief, “Well, I guess she’s with Finn now?” C’mon, guys, don’t be so gullible. If a single one-sided kiss was enough to seal the deal then half of you would be married to your little crush from kindergarten. More on that in the FinnRey post.

Vice-Admiral Holdo’s people survived. Barely. In spite of her. Really we all almost died but hey, she did that cool lightspeed thing! Plus, I have never seen purple hair look so chic.

holdo the last jedi

Holdo as a character, or rather, the idea and look of Holdo was utterly fascinating. She represented a larger group of people who like Leia, have fully committed themselves to this fight. Supposedly she’s another kind of Force-sensitive character who uses her abilities outside of the Jedi method.

I do not believe her character was done proper justice, she was fascinating in the creation, less effective in the execution. Her character was responsible for the biggest plot holes in the movie, and that’s a crying shame. Still…did I mention that awesome purple hair?

Chewbacca kept his new friend.

chewbacca the last jedi

We were amazed that he was willing to drop his new girl off to meet up with Ben Solo after how splendidly that went the last time, but Chewie is loyal to a fault. He obviously trusted that she could handle it. Chewie is one original character that we can rely on sticking around.

BB8 was a part of EVERYTHING.

Can this droid get any cuter?

Onto the villains.

DJ and Captain Phasma barely get an honorable mention. They got exactly what they signed up for.

DJ’s only purpose was to serve as a darker reflection of what Finn could have become, someone who is only in it for themselves. He was not useless, per se, but he was also not deep.

Phasma had the character arc of a yardstick. She served as a great few seconds of external conflict that made for some really hot Finn fight scenes. *golf clap*. Nice, but nothing to write home about.

Now for the REAL villains.

Hux is still a laughingstock.

hux the last jedi

In true villain form, Hux was thwarted yet again at the moment that should have been his triumph. He’s a rather interesting figure to me, he’s both fanatically frightening and laughably ridiculous all at once. He’s both bold and cowardly. He’s just weak enough to be dangerous and I think Kylo Ren is wrong to underestimate him. Hux’s defeat in this movie is going to make him even more dangerous in Episode 9. 

Snoke is dead. So, there’s that.

snoke the last jedi

Unexpected, cool, and also disappointing? Snoke was too malevolent and overpowering to just be forgotten. We need more information on what his bigger picture was. At the same time, he’s dead, so any agenda he may have had is in pieces. Literally.

I saved the most intriguing for the last…Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo.

kylo ren the last jedi

Like the heroes of this movie, Kylo Ren gets exactly what he wants…control. And yet, he ends the movie more desperate and villainous than he began it. Why?

What Kylo/Ben actually wants deep down inside is peace. Peace cannot be gained through murder and control, that only creates more chaos. Kylo’s blazing path of bloodshed and fury have not given him what he thought they would. Instead, he is left angrier and emptier than before. He’s a classic case of trying to achieve what you want/need the wrong way. This approach always leaves you in a worse situation than you began.

The Last Jedi went deep on multiple characters. It took our oh-so-familiar Star Wars moments such as the Darth Vader redemption scene and added a new twist to them. What if Vader kills his master but then decides to take control for himself?

We ended this movie where our heroes had nothing more than a hunk-of-junk and a smile to their names, and yet they felt that they had won while their enemies were left licking their wounds. Why?

Not all victories begin physically, the battle between good and evil is a battle of mindsets, ideals, and endurance. Our Rebels are winning this war, and the First Order knows it.

The Resistance is reborn today. The war is just beginning. And I will not be the last Jedi.

I truly value the previous main saga movies that have led us to this point, but Rian gave us a fresh perspective on an age-old battle. He highlighted characters outside of just “the big three” and somehow managed to leave us full of hope after a dreadful day. While there are glaring mistakes in this film, I am also amazed by all he accomplished.

Our heroes went through the fire and emerged as legends. Our villains went through the fire, some of them burned, and some of them now burn with a vengeance. The stage is set for an epic conclusion to this saga.

the last jedi poster

More in-depth on aspects of this film coming soon!

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How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

 

 

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

*Major Spoilers ahead*

Fellow Dragon Riders…that was utterly magnificent.

What a beautiful, beautiful story. The animation was breathtaking, the music reached my soul, and the characters. Our precious, beautiful, real characters.

I was shocked by how deep this beautiful story was.

The Hidden World somehow managed to teach us about the 2 sides of love. Letting go…and committing. 

Commitment…

Hiccup has chosen to commit to holding on to Toothless over and over again. He’s fought against his natural instincts, his culture, and even the death of his own father in order to stay true to his best friend. He changed his culture to make room for Toothless. And Toothless has returned the favor every time. He’s saved Hiccup from death and even reordered the entire dragon social structure (his culture) by challenging the alpha in order to protect his best friend.

hiccup and toothless challenge the alpha.gif

Letting Go…

When Toothless discovered the new love of his life, the Light Fury, Hiccup let him go for the evening to be with her, a first for them. The truth is, he did not know the full meaning of this choice. If he could see into the future he may not have been brave enough to let Toothless go. How true to life that is, sometimes we open the door for these massive and often upsetting life changes without even realizing what we are getting into. Hiccup was opening the door to let his best friend and ally go, but he did it because he loves him.

The Hidden World showed the need that arises sometimes to let those we love go in order to reach their full potential and thrive. But at the same time, with Hiccup and Astrid’s love story, it showed us the value and need to commit.

hiccstrid

Hiccup and Astrid have been an incredible pairing since their first flight together. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other beautifully. It’s clear that they make a mighty leadership team.

Up to this point, they have remained merely a boyfriend and girlfriend. And that was enough for the context of that time. But today is a new day.

Hiccup has been a chief for a year, and it’s clear that he’s still very green in this position. He’s doing his absolute best, but he’s literally flying by the seat of his pantsYet another new threat emerges, and Hiccup reacts. He must protect his own people, but he is also torn because he feels the need to protect the dragons as well.

Astrid is still operating as an encouraging and playful girlfriend. She’ll tease him, give him a good kiss, and then fly off into the sunset again. She supports him in public sometimes, but she does so sitting down. I am speaking literally, watch the movie again.

We aren’t ready for marriage.

astrid and hiccup, the hidden world

I love the role of the mentors in this movie. Gober is not always to be taken seriously, but his comments to Hiccup and Astrid about the need for them to commit to each other so that they may lead their people with strength are words of wisdom.

hiccup and his mother

Valka’s words of wisdom blew me away.

He thinks he has to lead alone just because his father did.

Valka looks to Astrid, who is still hanging back while she watches Hiccup in emotional agony, struggling with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Go, he’ll listen to you.

In the darling flashbacks with tiny Hiccup and his father, we see that there was more to Hiccup and Stoick’s relationship than just the dysfunction we were introduced into in the first film. Stoick was a kind and tender father who was doing his utmost to lead his people and make the world safe for his beloved son.

stoick and little hiccup

And Stoick bore it alone. The scene of Hiccup walking down the stairs at night to find his mighty and strong father crying by the fire was so important.

Stoick did not have his queen. He did not have his better half, his light, his partner. He needed Valka. What might have happened if Valka had stayed? It’s possible she could have changed the culture before Hiccup ever had to. It’s possible Stoick and Hiccup may have never fallen out of understanding with each other. Stoick would likely even still be alive.

Valka knows all of this now. She now knows the weight and value of the position and place she gave up at Stoick’s side. She has the humility to accept her failure in that regard, but rather than sinking into the shame of that failure, she instead uses it to teach Astrid (the new generation) how to live better.

hiccstrid hidden world

Valka shows Astrid the value and honor of her position at Hiccup’s side. She makes Astrid aware that the need to commit fully to Hiccup isn’t just a future joy, it’s a necessity for Hiccup, for Astrid, and for the future of their people.

Hiccup cannot do this alone. And so Astrid takes up the challenge. She soothes his hurting heart, gives him encouragement, fights at his side, and puts everything that is overwhelming him into perspective. She shows him how to fly on his own two feet…thus replacing Toothless as the most important person in Hiccup’s world. 

toothless and light fury

There were so many mirrored moments from the first HTTYD movie in Hidden World. When Toothless has his first meeting of romance with the Light Fury, I was heavily reminded of the first scene where Toothless and Hiccup bonded.

Taming Toothless

This concept of discovering each other. Toothless regurgitates the fish that Hiccup brought him as a peace offering to share with his strange, two-legged friend. Toothless coaches Hiccup in what he wants him to do. Hiccup barely gets the fish down and then gives a large smile…that Toothless then attempts to copy.

smiling toothless

And my favorite, Hiccup draws his new friend. And Toothless copies.

In this scene, Hiccup teaches Toothless to be a personToothless is already deeply curious, intelligent, and noble. But the more time he spends as a part of Hiccup’s world the more person-like he is.

Enter, the Light Fury. She is beauty and grace itself, and she is all dragon.

Toothless has spent so much time with Hiccup that he is a bit lost on the traditional dance of the Furies and what he must do to impress his new lady love. He continues to look to his human friend for guidance, for just like Hiccup, Toothless has yet to learn to fly on his own.

Every scene with the Light Fury was so, instinctive. It was quiet, and yet it spoke volumes. This beautiful girl taught Toothless how to be a dragon again…and like Astrid for Hiccup, she replaces Hiccup as the most important person in Toothless’s life.

toothless and his queen

When Hiccup goes looking for his friend in the hidden world he finds Toothless seated as king of the dragons. He is comfortable, regal, at home. The look on Hiccup’s face is utter devastation. But it’s not just the crushing realization that he is going to have to lose his best friend, he is also overwhelmed with inadequacy.

He does not know how to be what his people need without Toothless. They have always relied on each other to fly. Toothless changed everything for him. Now he is beset on every front with enemies, questions, and problems, and his friend has found his place in the world apart from Hiccup.

Hiccup feels so small.

Whew. Did anyone else take that moment in the gut? This entire movie I was nodding my head. YES! Oh yes, I have felt this in my soul. I know what he feels.

The true conflict in this movie did not revolve around the villain, he merely put a face to a much bigger problem that brought the true struggle into the light. Hiccup and Toothless can no longer thrive together in the way they have up to this point. In order to truly grow, they must go their separate ways.

grimmel

Grimmel represented the problem that was going to continue to plague Hiccup and Toothless. Evil people coming after the dragons, and by extension, the Berkians. As chief of his people, Hiccup could not in good conscience keep endangering them. As alpha of the dragons, Toothless had to protect his people.

True leadership is not about control, it is more often about sacrifice and servanthood. Both Hiccup and Toothless had to give up being together as friends in order to do what was best for their own people, and for each other.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. The five-year-old child sitting 3 seats away from me in the theater was sobbing and I started tearing up on her behalf. I know, Baby. I KNOW! This hurts! This growing, changing, letting go, it hurts.

And yet…

Hiccup came into his own. His new partner, his lifelong partner, Astrid, stepped in beside him and gave him the courage to fly on his own. And he did. And he won.

hiccup flying on his own

Toothless and he fought together to save each other and their people. And then they said goodbye.

Another beautiful mirrored scene. When Hiccup awoke from the victory of his first battle where he and Toothless fought The Green Death, he was walking wounded. He was missing a leg. This represents his need for support. He almost falls to the ground when Toothless jumps in and holds him up. They have held each other up for years.

hiccup holding onto toothless

This time Hiccup is down a leg his new support steps in to hold him up, Astrid. She is his future.

astrid ive got you

Oh the symbolism. I love it!

hiccup saying goodbye

It hurts, but it is also so beautiful. It is so real. This is what love does. Love commits, love lets go. Love commits to doing what is best for the other one, and sometimes that means letting go.

Hiccup let go. His people were safe. He marries the love of his life and you know they will lead their people into a glorious future. He becomes a father, a tender, loving father by the looks of it. And he never stops being Toothless’ friend. I so deeply enjoyed the intimate scene at the end where Hiccup and Astrid take their children to go meet the dragons. We end on all of our favorite people (and dragons) flying together in the future they all fought to win.

I ended this movie with hope and joy. Yes, there is sadness, but there is also joy. So much joy. What a gift. What a gift.

I hope you enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Even if it hurt, I hope your heart was ministered to as well. There is so much truth and life to be gleaned here. I feel very blessed.

And yes…there are dragons.

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